Stillwater Junior High School students will be provided with counseling after a 13-year-old student shot himself Wednesday morning before classes started around
Reports said at least six other students witnessed Cade Poulos taking his own life in the hallway. Social media said Poulos was bullied, but the school determined that bullying was not involved.
The school and the community have provided counseling for students, parents and faculty.
“Counselors will be in full force starting tomorrow,” said Oklahoma State University’s assistant professor in counseling, Julie Koch. “This is just really, really devastating to everybody.”
Koch has three children.
“I have a child in sixth, eighth, and tenth grade,” said Koch
She knows she sometimes has to separate being a parent and being a counselor.
“They are all going to have questions,” said Koch. “My tenth grader called me today (Wednesday) panicking, she was really scared.”
Koch’s son knew Poulos. She struggled to talk about his relation to him but reflected on the pain his family must be going through.
“The biggest fear a parent has is the loss of a child,” said Koch. “I am not sure I can wrap my head around it right now.”
She explained the challenges parents can face when wanting to be there for their children in times of tragedy.
“Teenagers can be difficult to talk with,” said Koch. “But kids are real resilient as long as they have each other, and socialize, they might do better than a lot of the adults will. I just need to make myself available, physically available; if they are going to be in the living room playing video games then I am there reading a book.”
A local pastor at Eagle Heights Baptist Church, Brent Prentice, is also reaching out to his community.
“We are not just going to treat this like it didn't happen we are not going on as though things are ok because this is our community, our city, our school, this is our church, we have students who knew that young man.”
Prentice’s challenge is being empathetic but also not sensationalizing suicide. He struggled to find a balance. He is sorry for Poulos’s family and his friends and he does not want others who are contemplating hurting themselves to see Poulos’s situation as a way to get more attention.
“We want to be able to say this young man made a decision and we wish he wouldn't have; and it was a bad decision.”
There will be ten counselors available at Stillwater Junior High School Thursday morning. They will resume all school activity as scheduled.